A cataclysmic flood could have filled the Mediterranean Sea — which millions of years ago was a dry basin — like a bathtub in the space of less than two years. A new model suggests that at the flood’s peak water poured from the Atlantic into the Mediterranean basin at a rate one thousand times the flow of the Amazon River, according to calculations published in the Dec. 10 Nature.
“In an instantaneous flash, the dry Mediterranean became a normal Mediterranean like we see it today,” says lead author Daniel Garcia-Castellanos of Spain's Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (CSIC) in Barcelona
The flood would have had a dramatic effect on local ecosystems, and could even have affected the global climate. The model suggests that global sea level dropped 9.5 meters as a result of the flood. The team points out that a much smaller flood in North America 12,000 years ago has been linked to a worldwide cold snap, and suggests that the Mediterranean flood may have had similarly significant effects.